Amir Khan believes he’s hitting his peak years ahead of his comeback clash against Phil Lo Greco at a sold-out Echo Arena in Liverpool tomorrow night, live on Sky Sports.
Khan steps back through the ropes for the first time in almost two years since facing Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas in May 2016 and the Liverpool fight fans will be the first to see him on UK soil in nearly five years since his clash with Julio Diaz in Sheffield in April 2013.
The former unified Super-Lightweight ruler is now aiming for two-weight World glory and begins that quest with a showdown with outspoken Canadian Phil Lo Greco – who has former two-time Super-Welterweight king Fernando Vargas in his corner.
Khan will have a new face backing him in Joe Goossen, who replaced an unwell Virgil Hunter as trainer for Khan’s camp, and the 31 year old has allayed fears that the change will hurt his comeback – and says Goossen has bolstered his defensive skills
“I’ve always liked the way that Joe trains his fighters,” said Khan, who scaled 10st 10lbs, with Lo Greco 10st 9lbs 5oz. “He’s trained some great fighters like Corrales and Casamayor. They’re fighters with a similar style to me so I thought Joe would be a good fit and we got in touch, got on and chose to work with him for the rest of camp and it’s worked well.
“Every coach is different. Joe has wanted to get my fundamentals right. He wants me to box how I used to, be smart and not make mistakes. Why give the opponent a free chance to hit you? Joe has been telling me to keep the hands up and when I throw a shot to always remember defence while making sure the offense is firing too.
“I feel really good. I’ve sparred a lot of young guys, Olympians and unbeaten hungry pros, and they have really been pushing me. They want to prove a point and show me how good they are, so they push me. I feel that my body is peaking and the gameplan that Joe is working on with me has come together. It’s been such a long time but I feel now like I’ve never left the game.
“The Amir Khan you’ll see is the one that boxes at a high pace with lots of combinations – but now when I throw them, there’s going to be better defence behind them. I feel better now than I did at 28. I’m 31 now, the peak years of my career, and I’ve made my mistakes and they’re in the past, I don’t want to make them again, so we move forward now and make the right choices.”
Khan’s clash with Lo Greco is part of a huge night of action in Liverpool where Birkenhead’s Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd defends his Commonwealth Lightweight title against Hull’s Tommy Coyle.
‘Miss GB’ Natasha Jonas fights for her first pro title with the WBA International Super-Featherweight title against Taoussy L’Hadji, former British and European Welterweight champion Sam Eggington begins life at Super-Welterweight, Rio Olympian Anthony Fowler boxes in front of his hometown fans for the second time as a pro and is joined by fellow Mersey hitters Tom Farrell and Craig Glover.
Exciting Welterweight Conor Benn returns, Qais Ashfaq is in his second pro fight, unbeaten Bolton Super-Bantamweight Osman Aslam and unbeaten Super-Welterweight Scott Fitzgerald are all in action.
Phil Lo Greco says Amir Khan has his time in boxing, but it’s all over for him now. His time is up. He’s not mentally stable, and he needs to be concerned about his health rather than trying to make more money.
Lo Greco (28-3, 15 KOs) notes that Khan was viciously knocked out in the 6th round in his last fight against Saul Canelo Alvarez, and he’s been out of the ring for 2 years now. He’s not the same fighter mentally, Lo Greco says. He thinks Khan should focus on his family and having a good life at this point.
Lo Greco and Khan will be fighting this Saturday night on Sky at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. This is supposed to be a tune-up fight for the 31-year-old Khan (31-4, 19 KOs), but more than a few boxing fans have doubt whether he’ll make it through the fight in one piece without suffering yet another knockout loss. Khan has been knocked out three times in his career to Briedis Prescott, Danny Garcia and Saul Canelo Alvarez. All three of the knockouts were clinical stoppages with Khan being badly hurt.
“His last fight, he got seriously hurt, he’s been out for two years. I know mentally he’s not stable,” Lo Greco said to skysports.com. ”At this stage once you pass your 30s and you’re not mentally right up here, it doesn’t matter how gifted you are physically – this isn’t going to work out. His time is up. Like I kept saying in the last press conference, it’s like ‘Streetfighter’ the video game, you run out of lives.”
If Khan loses this fight to Lo Greco, he might just need to think about retiring and enjoying his life. This is supposed to be an easy tune-up fight for Khan, but you never know. Julio Diaz was supposed to have been an easy tune-up fight for Khan in April 2013, and instead it turned out to be a grueling affair that ended in controversy.
Khan was knocked down in the 4th round by Diaz, and hurt several times. Although Khan did win the fight by a 12 round unanimous decision, it’s generally believed that he was given a hometown decision. Khan probably would have lost that fight had it taken place in a neutral country. That was the last time that Khan fought in the UK.
He hasn’t fought there since then. Hopefully, this Saturday’s Khan-Lo Greco fight doesn’t wind up being as controversial as the Diaz fight, but it’s doubtful that it will. If Lo Greco wins the fight, it’s likely going to be by a knockout, because he doesn’t have the greatest boxing skills. Khan is the much better boxer of the two. However, Lo Greco has some pop in his punches, and if he can land enough of his shots, he could KO Khan in short order on Saturday night.
It’s doubtful that Khan will retire even if he gets knocked out by Lo Greco. He’ll probably try and get a rematch with Lo Greco if possible so he can avenge the loss.